“Lesson 13: The Kirtland Temple,” Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material (2018)
“Lesson 13,” Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material
In December 1830, the Lord commanded the Saints to gather to Ohio (see D&C 37), and He later promised that there they would be “endowed with power from on high” (D&C 38:32). In December 1832, the Lord commanded the Saints to build “a house of God”—a temple—in Kirtland (D&C 88:119). By June 1833 they had made little progress and were rebuked by the Lord (see D&C 95:1–3). After being rebuked, the Saints immediately began working on the temple, which required great effort and sacrifices. On January 21, 1836, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a vision of the celestial kingdom in the nearly completed temple. The Prophet dedicated the temple on March 27 (see D&C 109), and on April 3, the Lord appeared in the temple and accepted it as His house (see D&C 110:7). Moses, Elias, and Elijah also appeared and committed priesthood keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
- December 1832
The Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple (see D&C 88:119).
- Early June, 1833
The Saints had begun construction on the Kirtland Temple.
- January 21, 1836
Joseph Smith received a vision of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 137).
- March 27, 1836
Joseph Smith dedicated the Kirtland Temple.
- April 3, 1836
Jesus Christ accepted the Kirtland Temple, and Moses, Elias, and Elijah committed priesthood keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, Volume 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 (2018), chapters 20–21
Show the accompanying image, and explain that it is a picture of the Kirtland Temple. Explain that the Lord commanded the Saints to build the Kirtland Temple in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–126, which the Prophet Joseph Smith received in December 1832.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:119 aloud. Ask the class to listen for how the Lord described the “house,” or temple, that He commanded them to build.
What stands out to you in this description of the “house” the Saints were commanded to build?
Explain that in June 1833—six months after the Saints in Ohio were commanded to build a house of God—they had made little progress toward building the temple. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 95:3, 8, 11–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about their effort.
In verse 3, what did the Lord say about the Saints’ lack of progress in building the temple?
What principle can we identify from verse 11 based on the Lord’s promise to His Saints? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: As we keep the commandments, we will have power to accomplish the Lord’s will.)
In verses 13–14, what did the Lord promise to do that would help the Saints build the temple?
Invite a student to read the following two paragraphs aloud. Ask the class to listen for how the Lord fulfilled His promise.
“A few days [after the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 95 was received], the Lord fulfilled His promise, giving Joseph Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency a remarkable vision in which they saw detailed plans for the temple. Frederick G. Williams, the Second Counselor in the First Presidency, later recalled: ‘Joseph [Smith] received the word of the Lord for him to take his two counselors, [Frederick G.] Williams and [Sidney] Rigdon, and come before the Lord, and He would show them the plan or model of the house to be built. We went upon our knees, called on the Lord, and the building appeared within viewing distance, I being the first to discover it. Then all of us viewed it together. After we had taken a good look at the exterior, the building seemed to come right over us’ [Frederick G. Williams, quoted by Truman O. Angell, in Truman Osborn Angell, Autobiography 1884, 14–15, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah]” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 271).
“One fundamental question settled by this vision was the matter of what materials to use in building the house. Lucy Mack Smith remembered a council meeting in which it was decided that a frame building would be too expensive; a log house was proposed instead. Joseph Smith reminded them ‘that they were not making a house for themselves or any other man but a house for God.’ He said, ‘And shall we, brethren, build a house for Our God of logs? No, brethren, I have a better plan than that. I have the plan of the house of the Lord given by himself.’ Lucy remembered Joseph saying that this plan would show them ‘the difference between our calculations and his Ideas.’ The brethren were ‘delighted’ when Joseph described the full plan, which envisioned a stone structure. [Lucy Mack Smith, “Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845,” book 14, page 1, josephsmithpapers.org; punctuation standardized.]” (Lisa Olsen Tait and Brent Rogers, “A House for Our God,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg , 167, or history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
According to these accounts, how did the Lord fulfill His promise to help the Saints accomplish His will?
Display the accompanying image of the construction of the Kirtland Temple. Explain that “in the summer of 1833, there were only 150 members of the Church living in the [Kirtland] area,” and they faced many obstacles as they strived to build the temple (Lisa Olsen Tait and Brent Rogers, “A House for Our God,” 169).
Divide the class into small groups of two or three students. Give each of the groups one of the accompanying handouts about the difficulties that the Saints faced in building the temple and some ways that they overcame those difficulties. Ask the groups to read their handout together and discuss their responses to the question on the handout.
After sufficient time, ask a student from a group that studied handout 1 and a student from a group that studied handout 2 to summarize the information on their handouts for the class. Invite them to explain how the Saints overcame difficulties they faced as they obeyed the commandment to build the temple. Then ask the class:
When have you received power to accomplish the Lord’s will while keeping His commandments?
Explain that by January 1836, the Prophet Joseph Smith and others began using the completed portions of the temple.
Ask students to locate chapter 21 of Saints: Volume 1. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from page 233, starting with the paragraph that begins “On the afternoon of January 21 …” and concluding with the paragraph on page 235 that begins “Filled with the Spirit …” Ask the class to look for what the Lord revealed to the Prophet in the temple.
How do these revelations concerning little children and those who died without a knowledge of the gospel help us better understand Heavenly Father’s justice, mercy, and love?
Explain that on March 27, 1836, the Saints gathered to the Kirtland Temple for its dedication. The Lord had revealed a dedicatory prayer to Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and others the day before, and they had it printed for the dedication (see D&C 109, section heading).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 109:22 aloud. Ask the class to listen for what the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed for in the dedicatory prayer.
Based on verse 22, what blessings can we receive as we worship the Lord in the temple? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: As we worship the Lord in the temple, we can be armed with His power, take His name upon us, receive His glory, and have angels watch over us.)
Based on your reading of chapter 21 of Saints: Volume 1, what were some of the spiritual manifestations the Saints experienced before, during, and after the Kirtland Temple dedication? (If necessary, explain that many felt a great outpouring of the Spirit, some saw a bright cloud and a pillar of fire over the temple, some saw the Savior, and some saw angels.)
Display the accompanying image. Explain that on Sunday, April 3, 1836—one week after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple—the Savior appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the temple and accepted it as His house (see D&C 110:1–8).
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for who else appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on that occasion.
“Moses appeared and gave the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the keys of the gathering of Israel. After this, Elias appeared and committed the gospel of Abraham, that in ‘our seed all generations after us should be blessed’ [D&C 110:12]. After this, Elijah the prophet appeared and gave to them the keys of this dispensation, including the sealing power, to bind in heaven that which is bound on earth within the temples [see D&C 110:13–16]. Thus, prophets of previous gospel dispensations presented their keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith in this, the ‘dispensation of the fulness of times’ spoken of by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians [Ephesians 1:10]” (James E. Faust, “The Restoration of All Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 62).
In what ways are we blessed today by the priesthood keys committed to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple? (For example, students may mention that the sealing power restored by Elijah binds or seals righteous spouses and family members to one another for eternity.)
Refer to the principle on the board: “As we worship the Lord in the temple, we can be armed with His power, take His name upon us, receive His glory, and have angels watch over us.” Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what kind of power we can receive as we worship the Lord in the temple.
“In the house of the Lord, faithful Church members can be endowed ‘with power from on high’ [D&C 95:8], power that will enable us to resist temptation, honor covenants, obey the Lord’s commandments, and bear fervent, fearless testimony of the gospel to family, friends, and neighbors” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Cultivating Divine Attributes,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 27).
Invite students to ponder how they have been blessed with power as they have worshipped in the temple. Invite a few students to share their thoughts with the class. (Remind them not to share anything too personal or sacred.) You may also want to share an experience and your testimony.
Encourage students to worship the Lord in the temple as often as their circumstances allow so that they can be armed with His power.
Invite students to prepare for the next class by reading chapters 22–23 of Saints: Volume 1.